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Goooooooooooooooooooooooa l!!

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About 18 months ago, I set a goal for myself as part of a kind of mid-life crisis. Having been reading novels from all over the map classics to mysteries to the occasional fantasy to Bernard Cornwell, I decided I was going to focus on a period of time in American literature. I thought about what I knew about American novelists and I found a gap between Mark Twain and the big 3, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner. I completely forgot Fitzgerald and some others. For some unexplained reason, I ended up focusing on USA by John Dos Passos.

I did a little web research on Dos Passos and discovered he was considered a naturalist, among other things. Not knowing quite what that meant I found other realists and naturalists and just other novelists from the time period 1880-1930. I made a list. It's in the first entry of this blog. But now after 18 months, I'm at the door step.

That list of books was for the most part accidental. Even as I accumulated it, I would shuffle it around or add a second volume by a writer. I identified authors I'd never heard of (William Dean Howells and Frank Norris) and discovered some that I had (Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton). In almost every case, I read two novels by each author. Twenty novels in all. Only two that I really didn't enjoy and only one of those two which I have no appreciation of at all and would not read again for any amount of money. Not bad.

Out of blind luck, I think this was perfect. Each novel seemed to connect in certain ways with others, thematically or stylistically. I've read about 10 pages of The 42nd Parallel and I can already tell that had I jumped in with this book 18 months ago, I would have been reading it just to read it with little appreciatiation for it. Now, I can tell this is going to be fun because I have Tarkingtion, Wharton, Howells, Norris, Crane, Lewis, Sinclair (I've already located Upton's socialist hammer), Twain, Fitzgerald, and yes even James to thank for helping me to appreciate it.

Now I can savor the experience instead of gobbling it up, belching, and moving on to some schlocky piece of pulp fiction.
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My Literary Journey

Comments

  1. mtpspur's Avatar
    Schlocky pieceof pulp literature??!! You would amazed who got prinyed in pulps-H. G. Wells, Harold Lamb, Rafael Sabatini, Max Brand, Ayn Rand no less. Plus surely you'v never read The Shadow circa 1938 a great year to be reading from. I had heard of Frank Norris by way of Classics Illustrated comics and I own all the Sharpe novels by Cornwell. Strongly suugest C.S. Forester's Hornblower novels.
  2. kiz_paws's Avatar
    Cool how your path of reading all kind of linked together!

    May the trend continue and happy reading, Pablo!
  3. PabloQ's Avatar
    MTPSPUR, actually prior to this journey, I had read the first 10 of the Sharpe books. I've also read the whole Hornblower series. so there. By schlocky piece of pulp fiction, I meant the DaVinci Code, Stephen King, or Tom Clancy. gack.
  4. Virgil's Avatar
    Fantastic quest Pablo. Congratulations on your achievement. You have in your brain the interconnections of American literature, not just from a theorectical, academic sense like I roughly have, but a tangible, real sense. I wish I could have done that. I envy you.
  5. andave_ya's Avatar
    WOW, that's cool!! Yesterday in my English class my professor was talking about learning context and how that helps in understanding what you read. I knew exactly what she meant because I'm reading Les Miserables right now and Hugo throws around French names like largesse to the populace . I can't image how much more interesting digging deeper into these stories is now that you know their context.
  6. mtpspur's Avatar
    Then I highly recommend Adam Hall's Quiller series if yiu want suspense novels written on a lierate level. The Sharpe's are up to about 20 books I think and he does a trilogy in India worth the read.